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Rules of the Game

by Amy Tan

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Why is Waverly exempted from chores in "Rules of the Game"?

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Waverly’s brothers have to do her chores because she is participating in chess tournaments.

Waverly’s family gets a used chess set from a charity at Christmas.  Waverly seems to take to the game right away.  She actually becomes pretty good at chess, and then becomes exceptionally good.  A Chinatown bakery makes a cake calling her the Chinatown Chess Champion.

Soon after that, a flower shop, headstone engraver, and funeral parlor offered to sponsor me in national tournaments. That's when my mother decided I no longer had to do the dishes. Winston and Vincent had to do my chores.

Waverly’s brothers complain that they have to work while she plays chess.  Her mother tells them that these are the American rules.  She wants a daughter who is successful, and although pride is not part of the Chinese culture, pursuit of success is.

By my ninth birthday, I was a national chess champion. I was still some 429 points away from grand-master status, but I was touted as the Great American Hope, a child prodigy and a girl to boot. They ran a photo of me in Life magazine …

Waverly continues to be successful, but does not like all of the attention she is getting.  She feels that her mother is too controlling, and shows Waverly off too much.  She yells at her mother and runs away from her in the street, and this pits the two of them against one another.

Waverly loves playing chess, but she is not doing it for the fame.  She plays chess for the love of the game.  She does not appreciate the extra attention that her mother gives her, and feels like her mother is taking credit for Waverly’s success.  Her mother is not the only one who takes pride in her.  The entire neighborhood loves her for her success.

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